Funny international movie titles

Michael Rechtshaffen - Sun Media

, Last Updated: 1:23 PM ET

HOLLYWOOD— What’s in a name?

That, of course, would depend on the name in question, as the international marketing teams behind the new 007 movie, Quantum of Solace, would discover.

Not that the English title exactly rolls off the tongue —in case you were wondering, it essentially means “a measure of comfort”— but when it came to coming up with foreign-language equivalents, overseas distributors were thrown for a bit of a loop.

Do they attempt a rough approximation of the original or scrap it completely in favor of something more recognizably, uh, Bond-ian?

So far, both strategies have been adopted, with Italy opting for what more or less translates as Breathing a Sigh of Relief, while Mexico went with 007 Quantum.

Whatever the moniker, the new Bond issue has translated into quantum ticket sales, generating world-wide box office of more than $160 million in its first 10 days, ahead of its North American opening Friday.

The name game has brought to mind past challenges involved in making some of those unmistakably English-language titles suitable for international consumption.

Take Knocked Up, for example. In Portugal, it translated into Slightly Serious, while the marquees in China advertised, One Night, Big Belly.

Then there was Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which the Germans simplified into Forget Me Not, while the Jim Carrey mind-bender arrived on Italian soil as If You Leave Me, I Delete You.

Get Smart appeared in a number of Spanish-speaking markets as El Superagent 86, while the animated Happy Feet danced into Barcelona as Breaking the Ice.

Going back a little further, the Tom Hanks comedy classic Big was known as Small Man in France, while Fried Green Tomatoes en francais became The Secret is in the Sauce.

In Germany, Annie Hall was better known as The Urban Neurotic, The Parent Trap was translated into A Twin Seldom Comes Alone and the Jim Belushi dog K-9 became My Partner with the Cold Snout.

More of our all-time favourites include Mr. Holland’s Opus, which was redubbed The Sunny Classroom in Japan, where Robert Redford’s The Horse Whisperer was trotted out as the decidedly more poetic Held by Wind in Montana.

But when it comes to inventive retitling, no one can hold a candle to China, where The Full Monty was better known as Six Naked Pigs, Risky Business conducted business as Just Send Him to University Unqualified, Free Willy performed swimmingly as A Very Powerful Whale Runs to Heaven and the Coen Brothers’ Fargo had become Mysterious Murder in Snowy Cream.

But beware the imposters.

Some respectable media outlets once fell for a clever Internet spoof that listed the Chinese version of Babe as The Happy Dumpling-to-Be Who Talks and Solves Agricultural Problems (in reality, it was known as I May be a Pig, but I’m Not Stupid), but it wasn’t so far off the mark.

Consider Paul Thomas Anderson’s memorable 1997 porn industry portrait, Boogie Nights, which the Chinese preferred to call His Powerful Device Makes Him Famous.

Meanwhile the Jack Nicholson/Helen Hunt Oscar-winner, As Good As It Gets, popped up at the Beijing box office as Mr. Cat Poop.

Wonder what they called Lost in Translation?

Michael Rechtshaffen, a Canadian entertainment writer based in Los Angeles, appears Wednesdays and Sundays


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